Sunday show roundup: Colin Powell on the GOP’s “dark vein of intolerance”

Powell says Republicans "still sort of look down on minorities"

Topics: Colin Powell, Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Gun Control, Sunday shows,

Sunday show roundup: Colin Powell on the GOP's "dark vein of intolerance" Former Secretary of State Colin Powell. (Credit: Wikipedia/Charles Haynes)

This week’s Sunday shows continued to focus on the gun control debate, as well as Chuck Hagel’s nomination to Defense secretary, with an aside from Colin Powell on racism. Here are the highlights:

- On racism:

Powell criticized Republicans for continuing to invoke racist tropes in attacks on President Obama. “There’s also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” Powell said on “Meet the Press.” “What do I mean by that?  What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.” 

He cited Sarah Palin, for one: “When I see a former governor say that the president is ‘shuckin’ and jivin’.’ That’s a racial-era slave term.” And John Sununu, a Mitt Romney surrogate during the campaign, for another. “[Sununu] didn’t say [Obama] was slow, he was tired, he didn’t do well; he said he was ‘lazy,’” Powell said. “Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is ‘shiftless,’ and then there’s a third word that goes along with it.” 

- On gun control:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that he doesn’t think an assault weapons ban will make it through Congress, nor does he necessarily support it. David Keene, the president of the NRA, had a similar view: “I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said that he doesn’t think it will pass unless it’s part of a comprehensive package. “Assault weapons stand-alone ban on just guns alone, in the political reality that we have today, will not go anywhere,” he said on “State of the Union.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., disagreed, saying that the shootings in Newtwon ”fundamentally changed things, and the NRA just doesn’t get this.”

- On Chuck Hagel:

McCain said that he still has “significant questions” about Hagel. “What is his view on America’s role in the world? Whether he really believes that the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War?” McCain said.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was noncommittal on “Face the Nation”: “[Hagel is] coming in next week to speak with me. I look forward to that. I have some questions I want to ask.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., remains undecided, saying on Fox News Sunday that though she is “very troubled” by the nomination, ”I have not made up my mind.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he has questions about Hagel’s “temperament.”

“Is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon,” Corker said. “I think there are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them.”

Colin Powell, on the other hand, said that Hagel is ”superbly qualified” for the post.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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